Sunday 29 September 2019

Puzzles can be Big or Small, Metal or Plastic...

Either way, I struggle!

Tree Box by Diniar Namdarian
Just realised that I too the photo with the tree rotated anticlockwise! Doh!
Quite a few months ago I bought a whole bunch of 3D printed sequential movement puzzles from the Master of that genre, Diniar Namdarian. I reviewed the Mazeburr-L here a little while after purchasing it and was very pleased to see it win a Jury Honourable mention prize in the 2019 IPP design competition. Amongst the other puzzles was an interesting box which Diniar describes as a sequential movement/sliding piece puzzle mixed with box and take apart puzzle and jigsaw. Who can possibly resist that? Certainly not me!

When it arrived, I was a little startled at the's big at about 20cm square 5cm deep. There is a nice Bonzai tree printed in relief on the top. After a few days of playing with other toys, I started exploring. Initially, there seems to be no way anything can slide or move. After thinking© for a few seconds, I tried the obvious and I was then able to slide other pieces around. Unlike the classic 15 puzzle, this has pieces that are not single units in length which severely limits the movements that can be made. Despite this, there are 2 or 3 possible sequences that can be started with and I rapidly started to worry that I might be totally lost. I resorted to my usual to and fro movements to try and keep track...this helped only for a bit! Despite extensive exploring, I was struggling to find any way to remove any more pieces or find another mechanism to open the box. The standard tongue and groove method of holding pieces in place was causing a few problems. After several days of playing in the evenings, I had a lovely little Aha! moment and rapidly followed it by a couple more. I had a nice pile of pieces and an open box.

That was fun!
At this point, I went back to the messages from Diniar about the puzzle and realised that the main challenge of it was to reassemble it and refashion the Bonzai tree. No kidding! I had absolutely no clue at all of the order that I had removed the pieces and only a very vague recollection of which pieces were removed from a specific position. The essence of it is that the puzzle no longer looks like a tree when you dismantle pieces so that even if you can put the pieces in then there is no guarantee (it's actually highly unlikely) that you can move them back to the start position.

This stayed as a pile of pieces in the box for nearly 2 months! Once or twice a week I went back to it and tried again. In the end, I had to position the pieces on a flat surface in the start position and move them around until I found the first exit pieces again. At this point, I was able to memorise the piece positions at which they come out and work backwards. It took ages and I very much doubt I could have worked it out any other way. Very clever and rather pretty - well worth a place in a puzzler's collection.

Having solved a large plastic puzzle, I decided to move on to a couple of very small ones:

I've imaginatively named it Yoshi Katani Small puzzle 1
and Yoshi Katani Small puzzle 2
At the last MPP, I admired in Allard's collection, a couple of little acrylic boxes full of tiny pieces all packed in cleverly. Allard, the monster that he is, saw my interest and instead of letting me idly explore from the solved packed puzzle, he upended it and told me to have fun. Swine! I set to playing with the Yoshi Katani small puzzle 1 and in the 15 minutes or so that my attention span lasted, I got nowhere close to putting it back. I glanced briefly at the other one (helpfully named number 2 because Allard cannot remember the proper names), and he immediately tipped the contents out before I could even look at how many pieces there were, let alone the arrangement! He then said that they were duplicates and that I could have them - Thanks, mate! Do you fancy putting them back in their boxes so that I can explore them gently? That will be a no then! I dutifully came home with my pile of (un)happiness cubes in pieces and these 2 little packing puzzles.

This week, I have had some time off work. To my mind, it was to allow me some puzzling time and relaxation but unfortunately "she who has a cat 'o nine tails tongue" had other ideas! DIY was the order of the week! I have successfully rewired some sockets, replaced my house wall thermostat (with only one teeny electric shock which only hurt a small bit - honest) and then replaced a door handle and tubular mortice latch with one that actually allows the doors to open - where does all that nasty black stuff come from? And thank heavens I remembered to put some newspaper down to catch it rather than getting it on the carpet!

In the odd few minutes of spare time, I had a fiddle with something small! These things are only 4x4x3cm and very fiddly. They are very nicely made from coloured and clear acrylic. As with all packing puzzles, I began with trial and error of random assortments of pieces. You all know that seldom works and I was forced to use my feeble electrocuted brain! The puzzle number 1 (whatever it may be really called) is actually a very nice logical puzzle which even I was able to solve by examination of the pieces and a little thought. It went together very nicely:

Yay! Very logical!
Mrs S dropped it during her tidying up and I had to solve it again - interestingly it still took me about 10 minutes! Small puzzle number 2 looks even more logical but so far after quite a few hours of play, it has completely beaten me! I have a pile of little pieces in the kitchen which the cats periodically move around (but don't solve) and which Mrs S is getting pissed off with. I will need to keep at it but all the obvious things which the offset holes have made me try have not come to fruition.

Another lovely puzzle that I tried this week and actually managed to complete was the Hanayama Cast Slider (reviewed beautifully by the PuzzleMad foreign correspondent, Mike). I very much agree with all of his thoughts.

Cast Slider - very mobile but very hooked together

There are some extreme movements possible and as you do them you get a full view of every part of the puzzle. During the exploration, a couple of ideas will immediately appear in your brain to try and if you do them right in the correct direction then there is a nice logical (again) solution. Perfect for beginners and experienced puzzlers! This can be bought from Nic Picot in the UK or in North America is available from PuzzleMaster.

For once a puzzle only took me an evening to solve!
Go buy one, its a nice pocket puzzle with which to entice others into our habit/addiction!

Finally, as always when one is on leave one catches a cold and feels miserable! I looked so awful that Mrs S had pity on me yesterday and allowed me to create a quick video showing off how to go about Aaron's Chinese soft rings. I don't really like solution videos much - I prefer videos that just give a clue to push start a puzzler towards the solution. The video below is for people who are truly stuck. Try to watch as little as you need before it gives away more than you want.

Now it's time to tiptoe back towards small puzzle number 2 before she notices that I am idle! Shhh!